Do you remember hearing the saying, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose as long as you do your best”? It’s most often used for children on sports teams and in other forms of competition. Some of us believed that, some of us didn’t.

 

What made the difference? Was it the type of competition we were facing or the attitude of those around us? Was it our own attitudes about what winning and losing meant to us?

 

I think many of us carry those childhood beliefs about winning and losing into our adult lives with us. There are so many things in this life that we are supposed to “get right” or “win” at, not the least of which is our path toward Christ. But who decides if we win or lose?

 

Sometimes we decide, sometimes we base our wins on the opinions of others—family, friends, or peers. How often do we let Christ decide?

 

If He were giving us a pep talk about our lives, do you think it would be, “It doesn’t matter if you win or lose, as long as you do your best”? Our Savior loves us dearly and He paid a great sacrifice for us to be able to make up for our shortcomings—I don’t remember anywhere in His teachings where it says, “You must win at all games if you expect to win with me.” The scriptures don’t really say much about the win or lose part, but they do have a lot to say about doing your best.

 

What is our best, in terms of Christ’s standards? It’s a very personal thing. “Best” is not the same for everyone, nor is it the same for everything one person does. “Best” is based on who we are and what God knows is in our hearts.

 

“Best” is not trying to excel above another. “Best” is not even trying to excel within our own life to a level that takes us away from Christ. “Best” is a measure of where our heart is and what we hope to accomplish with our actions. It’s not our own analysis of what we could have done better. That can be helpful for the future, but it is not helpful for judging things that have already passed.

 

Does that seem a little odd? “Best” is a measure of the moment. It is a question of whether in that moment, in that situation, we were doing the best we could. Jesus Christ does not require us to be in competition at all. He does not require us to be perfect in everything or even one thing in this life. He does ask us to take the gift of life that we are given and make the most of it every day. He asks us to be a little more perfect each day, or, in other words, to be more like Him with every passing day. Some days our best may be much greater or less than other days, and that’s okay. He is not comparing us against our neighbor, or even Himself—He is only looking at us through our own potential and path.

 

I think we are often harder on ourselves and each other than we need to be. We are not judges; we do not have the perspective and knowledge to be such, and yet we seem to spend an enormous amount of time doing just that. We judge ourselves, we judge our neighbor, and none of it turns out very well at all. I wonder why we continue to do it, then? Because somewhere along the line, we learned that life is a competition and we didn’t believe the well-meaning person who said winning or losing didn’t matter when the world clearly defines that one was better than the other. We all want our best to be the “best,” but unfortunately our limited perception does not let us see the Lord’s definition of what that is.

 

We need to spend more time figuring out what the Lord needs from us and less time trying to figure out how we measure up against our neighbor. How would our lives change if we looked to Him first rather than the rulers of the world? How would it be if we took our pep talks from Christ rather than our peers?

 

His counsel never changes. He asks us to sincerely do our best to keep His commandments, and that’s all. Are we actually trying to do that? Then our “best” will always be good enough for the Lord.

 

This post was originally published in April 2008. Minor changes have been made.

About Alison P

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